Christmas 2003

Greetings, everyone!

They say time passes more quickly as you get older. That really wasn't true for me this year. This was a long, eventful year, filled with 365 busy days.

For me, much of 2003 revolved around travel. In fact, at one time or another I spent the equivalent of a full month away from home, and it's not really a surprise that my car turned over 100,000 miles this fall. I started things off by ringing in the New Year in Chicago, where I caught my first professional basketball game. I didn't join the throng of revelers at Navy Pier, but I did have a lovely view of the New Year's fireworks there from my tenth-floor room in a hotel out by O'Hare. In the spring I had a wonderful time in California, where I did a lot of hiking and watched some baseball. I enjoyed the Taste of Chicago food fair on Independence Day weekend, and in August I traveled down to Alabama to see my former student Brad Nelson, who's playing AA baseball there. I'll be continuing the sports travel theme right before Christmas, when I hope to see my first professional football game in St. Louis.

November 21 marked the start of my 21st year teaching at Garrigan, and last spring I was honored with the special sweater the school gives to twenty-year veterans. We've got a really good group of kids at school right now, and things have mostly been going well with my math classes. I was especially pleased in speech season when the one-act play I had worked closely with was selected for all-state. While the judge there (a professional actress who seemed rather stuck on herself) didn't seem to care much for it, it's really getting to all-state that is the honor. I was also pleased to take the quiz bowl team on their sixth trip to nationals, this time to St. Louis. They won their first game there and were close in their others for a respectable showing overall. I also continued to work with student council, intramural basketball, and the weekly school radio show, all of which went pretty smoothly this year.

My second job as an adjunct instructor at Iowa Lakes Community College kept me very busy, with classes every term. In July I taught every single morning, plus two nights a week. It's amazing to think that it's already ten years that I've been teaching at the college-time does fly.

I continue to serve as worship leader at the First Congregational Church, which means I'm up in front every Sunday leading assorted prayers. I'm on the board of directors at church, and I'm also still on the board for the Iowa Council of Teachers of Mathematics. My biggest job there this past year was completely re-designing the organization's website. Fortunately, everybody seemed to like the results.

We had some really tragic news in the family this past year. On a Sunday in mid-January I got a phone call with the sad news that my nephew Josh had taken his life. I joined the whole family and what seemed like every teenager in Oskaloosa for one of the largest funerals I've ever been to. It was good to see everyone, I certainly wish it had not been under such horrible circumstances.

With Josh's death, it's certainly been a year of adjustment for Steve and Terry. Fortunately, most of the rest of their year was more positive. Steve is delighted that he's finally working days at Pella Windows, so he can actually see his family for a change. Terry is working at a law firm, and Michelle is now a sophomore and is doing well in school. Hannah, the oldest of their adopted children, is now at Eldora-New Providence, where she is a senior. Steve will be hosting our family Christmas this year, and I'm looking forward to going down to Oskaloosa for that.

Paul probably had the most noteworthy year of anyone in my family. His biggest event was probably testifying before a Congressional committee. For years he has done negotiations for the public school teachers' union, and Senator Harkin asked him to describe how skyrocketing insurance costs have affected teachers. Then in the fall, Paul was honored by his fellow Spanish teachers by being named Teacher of the Year by the Iowa World Languages Association. Paul continues his second job as the pastor for two congregations-one at a tiny small-town church and the other a Spanish-speaking congregation within the large Methodist church in Oskaloosa. Nancy has been taking Spanish lessons in addition to teaching special ed classes. Rachel is studying at Simpson College, where she works with the drama program, and Tim is now a senior in high school.

Margaret has joined me in teaching college-level classes. They have a center of Northeast Iowa Community College virtually adjacent to Crestwood High School, and she's now teaching advanced Spanish for college credit. She's lost quite a bit of weight from dieting and working out. I visited her in Decorah a couple of times, and she once again came over to help out at our quiz bowl tournament at Garrigan.

John and Janet are still in Maquoketa. It amazed me when Janet sent an e-mail reminding me that this November marked John's fiftieth birthday. She "honored" him with one of those newspaper ads with an embarrassing childhood picture. John continues to be the English department at Andrew High School, and Janet works as a high-level executive assistant for an insurance company in Dubuque.

I didn't see much of the extended family this year; in fact most of my contact was at Josh's funeral. I'm looking forward to happier events like Tim's graduation or family reunions that will be coming up in 2004. From what I hear, though, both the Burrows and the Millers are mostly doing well.

I hope all is well with you, too. May the holidays be a happy time for all of you, and the New Year bring you blessings and joy.

Merry Christmas!

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